by Antoinnette Borbon
Taking the stand to testify about the arrest of co-defendants, after service of a search warrant, was Agent Ryan Bellamy of the SAFE (Special Assignments and Focused Enforcement) Team in Davis. Bellamy, who has also worked as a YONET (Yolo County Narcotics Enforcement Team) agent, has assisted in several undercover operations.
Agent Bellamy testified to being a part of the team who searched the home of the co-defendants. A mother and son who reside in Davis are being charged with three felony counts, which include three weapons charges and a possession of drugs for sale by the defendant, John Mouton.
When the police pulled over Mr. Mouton in Davis, he had his three children and his wife in the car. It was unclear to the Vanguard whether or not the family resided with the co-defendant, Sheila Carrie, who is the mother of Mr. Mouton. Authorities took the family back to the home, which they searched, and then they took statements from the defendants.
Mr. Mouton had been under suspicion for robbery, the agent explained.
A search warrant had been signed. Upon searching the home, the Yolo drug task force team found concentrated cannabis in several jars, along with other drug indicia, ammunition and two weapons
Agent Bellamy testified to the common scene found in residences which led authorities to believe the drugs found were for the purpose of selling.
But he said even more of a telltale sign are the defendants text messages. “I found text messages from a friend who was asking for wax, a concentrated cannabis, and the defendant gave him a price of 20 dollars, another text stating, ‘you gave me your number and you said you would deliver,'” Agent Bellamy explained. Bellamy says this is typical evidence of sales.
Mr. Mouton described smoking 8 grams of wax per day to the officers when he was interviewed by police.
“Never spoken to anyone who told me they used 8 grams a day, that is a lot,” says Agent Bellamy.
During the search, two weapons were recovered – one pistol that was found near the bed in a cabinet, and a shotgun in the closet.
In a brief cross-examination, the defense attorney for Mr. Mouton, Rod Beede, asked Ryan Bellamy if he ever threatened taking the defendant’s kids to CPS (Child Protective Services). “No, I did not, never heard any cop say that but we did see things that concerned us at the home.”
“Do you know if stating that is used as leverage to get defendants to tell cops what they want?” asked Beede.
“No, it is incorrect to say we use that as leverage,” answered Agent Bellamy.
Bellamy testified to finding a safe with 30 jars inside containing concentrated cannabis. He said they were all with the same amount, which to agents is also a common indication of sales.
Mr. Mouton admitted during his interview with police that he had access to the bedroom of his mother, co-defendant, Sheila Carrie. Sheila Carrie had been recovering from an illness during the search warrant and was bedridden as officers searched her home.
Both weapons found were notably old, Bellamy stated. “But in working condition.” Mr. Mouton told police that his probation officer was fully aware of the guns kept in the home. Prosecutor Amanda Zambor had no evidence of that being true or false.
Bellamy said he did not author the search warrant, but assisted alongside Detective Sean Bellamy who took photos at the scene.
According to Agent [Ryan] Bellamy, it was an undercover investigation that led police to the home of the co-defendants.
This case, as with many others, has once again highlighted the issue of whether medical marijuana is an excuse to continue addiction and/or to sell marijuana – many of the conditions seem identical as they are laid out on the proverbial table.
Defendants claim their addiction is so great that they need to keep an exorbitant amount as a necessity to sustain themselves.
One can certainly opine that it may well be the case of an addict who is pushed to sell in order to feed his own habit, but those cases may be few and the circumstances would be different.
As memory serves me, taking a look in retrospect of many drug cases covered, the testimony bears a strong resemblance to what is found on the scene every time a residence is searched.
Thus, testimony becomes much like that of a broken record.
In today’s preliminary hearing, the defendant claimed his addiction warranted the use of 8 grams of wax a day.
However, according to some medical doctors, that statement would be highly unlikely, due to its toxic nature.
A type of marijuana that users call wax, as the text messages relayed, is what the defendant claims to have been smoking. This type of concentrated marijuana is becoming widespread and can be very dangerous, states Dr. Dale Gieringer in his article published in the Marijuana Medical Journal.
The wax type of marijuana usually runs a bit higher in price, due to the level of concentration.
Gieringer explains that the high is so intense that “[i]n the past couple of years … there have been repeated occasions in which 911 teams have had to be called in due to cannabis overdoses.” He says the practice of high-concentrate cannabis smokers is hardly for medical purposes, except for the sickest patients or those with a high tolerance. But it carries a great danger.
Dr. Gieringer notes that high concentrations can cause one to pass out and, with the popularization of hash oil in recent years, he adds that the dangers are “dire enough to merit a special warning.”
He states the practice of using the concentrated amounts are more dangerous because they carry a hidden danger, which is butane poisoning.
Butane is used to extract plant material from the plant itself, then the material is drenched in butane; its oils dissolve and can be captured in a container.
In many cases against defendants, we hear testimony of drug enforcement agents testifying to the confiscated butane containers used.
Not uncommon, we sometimes hear of small children residing in the homes of defendants where the concentrated cannabis has been manufactured.
During the extraction process, defendants use the butane containers to extract the psychoactive components from the plant material. It can be a very dangerous process.
Dr. Jeffrey Hergenrather explains, “Instantaneously, the butane evaporates leaving only the oil behind.”
He says not only is this process illegal, it can also leave behind neurotoxins in the cannabis, which is dangerous for the user.
Both doctors have published their research in the Marijuana Medical Journal.
Again, in today’s testimony by Agent Bellamy, the defendant’s statement to police was that his habit is at 8 grams of wax per day.
It begs a question of reasonability, especially if one considers the research.
According to some doctors, the statement made by the defendant may be a highly unlikely probability, since the level of concentration is dangerously strong, even for habitual users.
However, there is the possibility of some people who may have built up a high tolerance to the drug.
So, having said this, how often is a medical marijuana card really used for the purpose of medicine? One will never really be able to determine the answer.
What we do know is that the medicinal excuse is growing like wildfire and now birthing the same defense over and over again.
It has become too easy to obtain a card and many may be tempted to sell, at least for the purpose of feeding their own addiction.
But, at the end of the day, the co-defendants were held to answer on all counts. Judge Dave Rosenberg stated, “I find sufficient evidence to hold the defendants to answer.”
Arraignment is set for Department 1 later in June.